"Alexa, Is Amazon Coming to Newark?": Amazon's Second HQ and Courting Businesses to Newark

A few days ago, I asked my brother to do me a favor. I asked him to pose a question to his Amazon Echo. He asked, “Hey, Alexa, is Amazon coming to Newark, New Jersey?” This was her dulcet-toned response:

Amazon selected Arlington, Virginia as the location for its second headquarters. The company will invest more than $2.5 billion to create more than 25,000 jobs. In addition, Amazon selected Nashville for a new “center of excellence” for its operations business which will create more than 5,000 jobs. Amazon will also continue to grow and hire across its 17 corporate offices and tech hobs across the U.S. and Canada.

Not quite the answer I was looking for. What was missing from that response was the fate of Amazon’s bid to open a second headquarters in New York City. Last week, in a very subdued press release, Amazon announced that it would no longer pursue the construction of the second headquarters in New York City. All of this came at the end of a year long courtship between Amazon and several cities and states, including Newark and New Jersey which submitted a joint bid, where cities competed to vie for Amazon’s attention with tax incentives and, in some cases, colorful video presentations. Immediately after Amazon’s announcement about New York, almost every media outlet offered its own autopsy of the situation. Some said the push to prevent Amazon from establishing the new HQ there arose from a groundswell of grassroots activism, primarily from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and State Senator Michael Gianaris, specifically decrying the special tax incentives offered to Amazon, its anti-union stance, and its relationship with ICE, among other things. Others argue that these were merely the loudest voices in the room and didn’t represent the views of the actual New Yorkers on the ground, which some polls suggested were in favor of Amazon coming. Either way, within a few days, Mayor Baraka published a piece (not surprisingly) in the Washington Post seeming to say that the administration wanted Newark to be in contention for the second HQ offered to Amazon. Its unclear whether Amazon is still searching to place this HQ, after its experience within New York.

Guests:

Jorge Santos—Jorge is the Vice President for Economic Development Policy at Newark Community Economic Development Corporation. Jorge has worked in a variety of government offices and political campaigns including the Office of the Governor, the legislature, federal, state and local campaigns. At NCEDC, he focuses on the Riverfront Park expansion project, Newark Fiber and attracting real estate and business development to the city. Jorge attended The Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy at Rutgers University where he received dual master's degrees in Public Policy and City & Regional Planning. He has held fellowships with the Eagleton Institute of Politics, New Leaders Council and currently Leadership Newark. 

Rory MacQueen—Rory is a software engineer who currently works Uber. Prior to his current role, Rory worked at a number of startups in San Francisco and abroad in Brazil. He has lived in NYC for over a year and takes a keen interest in the intersection between politics and technology.

Christian Dean Smith—Christian is a technical problem-solver at Impact in NYC. Originally from Newark, Christian spent years in product management and sales engineering in Seattle & Silicon Valley.  He is passionate about music, education, and uplifting the human voice.  Christian is an alumnus of Stanford University and a Newark Wight Foundation Scholar.

Articles & Background:

  • An article by Matt Yglesias explaining the downsides of Amazon’s HQ bidding process: click here

  • An article by guest, Christian Smith, on the “Amazon Sweepstakes”: click here

  • Mayor Ras Baraka’s Article in the Washington Post: click here

  • The official website of Newark’s Amazon bid: click here

  • An article arguing why Newark was the “socially responsible” choice for Amazon: click here

  • An article detailing the six sites in Newark that would host the HQ: click here

  • An article explaining why Amazon pulled out of New York: click here